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From victory to annexation

Nicos Rolandis addressing the UN General Assembly

Impermissible blunders, including the selective acceptance of United Nations’ resolutions, has alienated the international community and made Turkey’s annexation of the north a real possibility

 

By Nicos Rolandis

There was a time when the UN General Assembly was our home, our real home. Those were the years soon after the Turkish invasion when we had resorted to the General Assembly on a number of occasions and the results were overwhelmingly in our favour.

We organised a strong team at the United Nations, which was working methodically in the presence and with the contribution of the political leaders of Cyprus. The permanent representatives (ambassadors) of all the 152 member-states were briefed each time we made a recourse which were organised and co-ordinated by the foreign ministry. The political leaders such as Glafcos Clerides (DISY), Ezekias Papaioannou (AKEL), Alexis Galanos (DIKO) and Vasos Lyssarides (EDEK) were always present and helped a lot.

In those years of the late 70s early 80s, I was always present as well, leading a team of diplomats (ambassadors or future ambassadors) which consisted of Alecos Shambos, Zenon Rossides, Andreas Mavrommatis, Andreas Jacovides, Dinos Moushiouttas, Michael Sherifis, Elias Ypsarides, Akis Stephanides, Theophilos Theophilou, Pambos Charalambous, Erato Marcoulli, Jimmy Droussiotis and others. Those years were really productive and we secured three important resolutions:

33/15 of November 9, 1978, with 110 votes in favour, four against and 22 abstentions.

34/30 of November 20, 1979, with 99 votes in favour, five against and 35 abstentions.

37/253 of May 13, 1983 (probably the best resolution Cyprus ever secured) with 103 votes in favour, five against and 20 abstentions.

 

That was the picture at the General Assembly and the international community in those years, despite the fact that we had against us a very powerful adversary, Turkey and her friends and allies.

 

Recently, almost 40 years on, our Andreas Mavroyiannis lost the presidency of the General Assembly with 94 votes against and 90 in favour, although all we had standing against us was Fiji, an island lost in the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

One might remark that the supportive Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries no longer exists or that the present case was a specialised one. The truth however (and this is my own conclusion through my contacts in recent years) is that things for Cyprus are not what they used to be.

To be fair Ι must clarify that the government, the foreign ministry, our New York mission and Mavroyiannis are not to blame at all for this outcome. They all worked hard and conscientiously and they covered the whole spectrum of countries in New York.

The message is a different one. It is that over the years we have lost our credibility in the international community. We lost many friends. We failed to achieve a balanced solution of our problem when the opportunities were there. So the stance of the international community and the resolutions are not favourable any more.

The international community can no longer tolerate our attitude of invoking, on the one hand, Security Council Resolutions, High Level Agreements and the European justice and on the other hand to ignore them.

Unfortunately, there are many examples piled up as a result of our negative attitude over the years. Amongst them are: the unanimous Security Council Resolution 1475 (2003) which strongly supports the Annan Plan; unanimous Security Council Resolution 649 (1990) which adopts report S/21183 of the Secretary-General for majority of population and property ownership in the constituent states; the agreement of the July 8, 2006 (Papadopoulos-Talat) whereby bizonality is accepted in an absolute manner and the Demopoulos case (2010) of the European Court of Human Rights, which recognises certain rights of the “users” of properties.

We have to decide. Do we accept and respect the Security Council Resolutions, the agreements we have signed and European justice? We cannot invoke them “a la carte”. If we do not want them, we must say so and take the consequences.

Demetris Christofias used to say that he was trying to solve the Cyprus problem, so that he would not end up as the last president before partition.

When Nicos Anastasiades took over, so many problems were already amassed, that a solution seemed almost impossible. This is what Nicos inherited from the long-term struggle lovers, the perennial rejectionists who have buried the dreams and visions of Cyprus.

However, it now appears, that averting partition is probably not the real objective anymore. The essence is to avert the annexation of Cyprus’ territory by Turkey, which would remind us of the lost territories of Hellenism 100 years ago. It would also remind us of the annexation of Syrian Alexandretta (Iskenderun) by Turkey in 1939.

Recently, I was invited to SIM TV station, which is close to the Republican Turkish Party of Mehmet Ali Talat, where I was interviewed by Turkish Cypriot journalists Fatma and Mutlu Azgin. It appears that quite a number of Turkish Cypriots have the feeling that northern Cyprus will eventually be converted into the 82nd District of Turkey through annexation.

There are many ominous signs. The “state” revenues emanate almost completely from Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens (settlers) live in the north where they outnumber by far the Turkish Cypriots. The currency is the Turkish lira. There is an occupation force of 40,000 Turkish soldiers. The main source of water supply is Turkey. Electricity will soon be transmitted from Turkey. The telephone system belongs to a Turkish corporation. The ports are in the process of being controlled by Turkey while they do control airports and air transport.

Other signs include the “ministries” which have a Big Brother from Turkey overseeing decisions, and the huge investments by Turkish corporations in tourism and other fields and the land continuously being purchased by Turkish interests.

In terms of education, there is a new office coordinating youth and sports issues which will be controlled by Ankara just like the theology colleges while the Turkish army and its organisation infiltrate schools. A new Turkish university is being established in Morphou, where many other investments are under way. There are 15 universities in the north and another 12 are in the wings and all of them are under the discreet supervision of Turkey.

Excursions to Turkey have multiplied and the district administration is under the control of commissions from Turkey. And when it comes to matters of security the Turkish Cypriots place their trust solely in Turkey.

Many Turkish Cypriots have come to feel Turkish in recent years, according to Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent who in a recent article in Politis said: “Turkey controls everything in the north. … We have become part of Turkey.”

So, our own “great patriots”, by blocking a solution and by rejecting one initiative after another, despite our continuous warnings, have led to the probable conversion of part of Cyprus into Turkish territory.

And even now, instead of facing with concern the realities they have created, “the patriots” sit back in their offices and their comfortable sofas and they discuss “the shadow of donkeys”, as the ancient Greek comedy writer Aristophanes aptly put it.

I express the wish that President Anastasiades will manage, under very difficult conditions, to strike the golden mean with Mustafa Akinci before the “north” is converted officially into Turkish territory.

As I disclosed at the SIM TV station interview, I sat down recently on my own, for hours and hours and using my 40-year experience, I worked out a plan which might constitute a functional solution of our problem, but after 53 years of sins and blunders by both communities it could not be a desirable one.

 

Nicos Rolandis is a former foreign minister, commerce minister, MP and president of the Liberal Party

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